Serena Williams ties Martina Navratilova with 306th Grand Slam victory

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Serena Williams advanced to the third round of the U.S. Open with a routine 6-3, 6-3 win over Vania King. (AP)

NEW YORK —The Williams sisters went back to back yet again at the U.S. Open on Thursday night. Following Venus’ win over Julia Goerges, Serena Williams took to the covered Arthur Ashe Stadium stage and beat Vania King, 6-3, 6-3. 

“It’s really amazing to have myself and my sister in the Top 6,” Williams said. “It’s pretty cool. It’s a great feeling. We’re still just doing the best that we can.”

Williams looked every bit the gladiator, strutting around the arena with a steely gaze. Her pink and black Nike dress has been compared to a superhero’s outfit, but it looks more like armor with the high neckline, protected arms, dark chest-plate design and thick-pleated bottom.

Playing at the site of her first major title—she won her maiden Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows, as a teenager, back in 1999—Williams took control early and never let up.

“Every match I like to go out and do the best I can,” Williams said. “So hopefully I’ll be able to play better as the tournament goes on.”

The No. 87-ranked King was Williams’ prey on Thursday evening, a victim of Serena’s onslaught of huge serves. At 27, King has been around the block for some time, with her best showings in New York a pair of third-round appearances in 2009 and 2011. She had played the world No. 1 just once before—on the same court in the same round—in 2014, when Williams brushed her off, 6-1, 6-0.

Things looked to be going down that same route early on, with Williams easing ahead 3-0 with little trouble. The first competitive game went in King’s favor, as she is scrappy enough to force errors on long points.

When Williams really stepped into the court to rip a shot, King was literally pushed off onto her back feet in an attempt to return it. Thanks to a strong serve and forehand-winner combo, Williams pressed ahead, 4-1. By holding serve once more, King had already done better than she did the last time she faced Williams. Looking sharp, top seed comfortably held again for 5-2.

King fought back to get the next game, but it was too little, too late as Williams took the set, 6-3, hitting seven aces to King’s one. She also hit 19 winners to King’s three.

King carried some momentum from the first set into the second, and inched ahead 1-0. Williams, sensing that things could get tricky, got amped up and screamed “Come on!” to encourage herself to break serve. It worked, and she took a 2-1 advantage.

Williams, with her dominant service game, looked less antsy now that she had a break in her pocket. King doesn’t miss much, evidenced by the 11 unforced errors she committed all match.  

King did her best to drag the match on, managing to hold serve for 3-4. But in what felt like seconds, Williams served out the next game and then wrapped up the win with a powerful forehand winner on her second match point.

The biggest difference with the roof closed was that the umpire had to remind the crowd to quiet down far more often than usual. The only time noise seemed to be really noticeable, though, was when Beyonce and Jay Z, seated cozily in Williams’ box, appeared on the big screen.

“It was definitely a little different [with the roof],” Williams said. “…But it still feels great.”

Seventeen years after winning her first major, the 34-year-old is into the third round as her quest to pick up a 23rd major lives on. 

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